Consumers Association of Bangladesh described Monday’s public hearing on the gas price hike proposal ‘a farce.’
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission called the public hearing at its office in the capital to consider the demand for increasing gas transmission tariff raised by the Gas Transmission Company Limited and Petrobangla.
They demanded raising the transmission tariff for laying or already laid transmission lines for the distribution of imported liquefied natural gas.
‘The public hearing is nothing but a farce,’ said energy adviser of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh M Shamsul Alam when the BERC invited him to the podium to give his views on the issue.
He said that the GTCL and Petrobangla was trying to justify the hike even before supplying imported LNG to consumers.
Shamsul Alam said that if transmission tariff was increased gas price would automatically go up.
In its presentation at the public hearing, GTCL expressed fears that its profits would dip further unless the transmission tariff was increased commensurate with its investments for laying new pipe lines for the supply of LNG.
GTCL proposed to increase the transmission tariff from Tk0.26 to Tk0.44 per cubic meter of gas.
The previous transmission tariff hike occurred in March, 2017, when the tariff was increased to Tk0.26 from Tk0.15 per cubic meter of gas.
A BERC technical evaluation committee after reviewing GTCL’s proposal said that in fiscal 2018-19, the utility would incur a deficit of Tk0.10 per cubic meter of gas from its transmission cost at the current rate.
The CAB adviser called it unfortunate and unacceptable that government agencies were lending support to each other only to justify the gas price hike.
This happens when the government gives importance to business over public service, he said.
Energy expert Badrul Imam said that the idea of importing LNG to overcome the dipping domestic gas reserves was wrong in the first place.
‘I fail to see any logic behind this argument,’ said Badrul.
He said instead the government could step up its exploration activities to discover new gas reserves.
‘LNG is costly fuel. I wonder whether it was really necessary to make the nation dependent on the expensive alternative,’ said Badrul.
Many consumers criticized state-owned gas utilities for their negligence to stop pilferage of gas through illegal gas supply connections.
Retired joint sectary Mohiuddin Ahmed of Mohammadpur in the capital told the public hearing his family like so many others in the area got no cooking gas supply from 5AM to 11 PM every day over the last one year.
‘Though I pay for it, my family does not get gas when needed,’ said Mohiuddin.
He demanded action for corrective steps by the gas supply utility.
GTCL managing director Ali Md Al Mamun said that there was no scope for illegally supplying gas to anyone.
The public hearing would continue until June 22 but with breaks in between.
On Tuesday, BERC would hear proposals of gas distribution utilities.
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